Who doesn’t love a day trip? Now that the weather is finally starting to cool down, there’s no better time to hop into the car and hit the road and cross the river into Lafitte, Laouisiana for a day of adventure and getting to know local nature. It’s time to enjoy Louisiana autumn in the great outdoors!
Where are we going?
We’re headed to Lafitte and surrounding areas! Less than an hour outside of New Orleans, Lafitte is a unique community that offers nature trails, bayous, swamp tours and some of the best seafood you’ll ever have in your life. Located 45 minutes from New Orleans, The Town of Jean Lafitte lies along a natural ridge of land at the entrance to the Barataria Basin. Named for pirate Jean Lafitte, people in this community hold pride in their traditions of fishing, oyster, shrimping and crabbing.
What are we doing?
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Become one with nature on a walk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, located at 6588 Barataria Blvd. in Marrero. This beautiful Louisiana Wetland Preserve offers nature trails, birding trails, and self-guided or ranger-guided tours.
This area is completely undeveloped and contains bayous, swamps, marshes and forests along boardwalks and dirt trails, so dress accordingly and don’t forget your insect repellent. Along your walk, you will encounter all that Louisiana nature and wildlife has to offer including many different varieties of spiders and other insects, 200 species of birds, alligators, snakes and lizards and other exotic wildlife.
On my walk, I saw a raccoon! If wild animals aren’t your thing, the trails offer views of the beautiful wetlands as well as many different species of plants and wildflowers. Walking the trails is one of my favorite things to do in the area, especially when the weather is really nice. It’s quiet and it’s a great way to de-stress and reflect. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even fish at the preserve. A valid Louisiana state fishing license is required and fishing is limited to Bayou des Familles, Bayou Coquille, Kenta Canal, and Twin Canals. Call 504-689-3690 for more information.
A swamp tour is one of my favorite local activities and they are always a lot of fun. Depending on the company, tours usually cost between $25 and $35 dollars and take about 90 minutes. On the tour, a guide will take you and a group of others on an exciting journey through the Barataria swamps. I’ve been on these tours many times and you get to see everything that you can imagine, up close and personal — gators, turtles, snakes, mink, nutria, fish and plants of all kinds.
If your tour guide is feeling adventurous, he might even attempt to feed a few gators from the boat. Don’t worry, the gators are as friendly as gators get, and as long as you stay in the boat, they won’t make a meal out of you. You can easily book the tour on the site and if you go to a site like Groupon, you can often find coupons that will provide a big discount. There are a lot of different swamp tour companies out there, but my top pick is Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours: www.jeanlafitteswamptour.com
Lafitte’s Barataria Museum
Located at 4917 City Park Dr. in Lafitte, the Barataria Museum tells the 200-year-old story of the Town of Jean Lafitte. This is a great attraction and a place to learn about the history of Lafitte, when and how it was founded and the culture of the people who call it home. The admission is $6 for adults and $3 for kids. There’s a really interesting 30-minute film about the history of the area and then you can walk through the museum itself and learn more about the culture of Lafitte and Barataria. You can then walk out onto the Jean Lafitte Nature Study Park and follow a boarded trail through the preserve. I really enjoyed my visit here and learning about pirate Jean Lafitte and the history of the area and the people was a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Where to eat
Voleo’s is a fantastic spot where everyone seems to know each other. The menu is large with selections such as sandwiches, gumbos, salads, various seafood dishes and much more. If you have a big crew, everyone is sure to leave satisfied. When I was here, I got the Flounder Lafitte which is fried fish topped with a tasty crawfish sauce served with French fries, salad and toast. The meal was excellent and the staff was friendly and welcoming. Prices are great and this will make for a good lunch after a busy day exploring the area.
Restaurant des Familles
Restaurant des Familles has been a celebratory staple of my family for as long as I can remember. Whether you are adventuring on a swamp tour, exploring the wetlands, or you just want to eat somewhere that’s not your typical restaurant, Restaurant des Familles just might be up your alley. I love that this place is perfect for a fancy celebration or a casual lunch. The dining room looks out onto the bayou, and you just might catch a glimpse of a gator while you eat. Restaurant des Familles has some lunch specials such as red beans and rice, half po-boy and gumbo, a softshell crab sandwich and half a seafood platter that are perfect for an affordable bite after a long day.
Lafitte is certainly a unique place, right here in our own backyard. The town may be small, but the area is packed with adventure and just waiting to be explored.